Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuna Burgers and Wasabi deviled eggs

I'm sorry, but my Martha Stewart Living subscription is one of the best parts about getting mail! Jack rolls his eyes at me when I repeat things from it. "Well Martha says..." Of course, the food sections are my favorite. The latest issue has a section on Hamburgers with fantastic deconstructed photography of different ideas that put a twist on the classic. Feeling decadent, I chose to try the Tuna burger. That's 1 1/2 pounds of yellowfin tuna! Not cheap. But actually, it worked out to be just about $3.50 per burger, so if I think of it that way...

The website warns that they will fall apart on the grill (a warning I don't remember seeing in the magazine...), but we packed them pretty tight, then let them firm up in the freezer for a half hour or so. And with grill-master Jack at the helm, they turned out intact, delicious and oh so pretty. Take a gander at those perfect grill marks and tell me this guy's not a keeper! Fo' Sizzle!

We didn't make the coleslaw...they really didn't need it, as they were plenty moist and flavorful on thier own. We did butter and grill the buns, and I added sprouts to mine. Cuz I love sprouts (that's right! A meat eater who loves tofu AND sprouts!). I did, however, make the suggested side dish, wasabi deviled eggs. I thought it sounded like a fun little twist, even though I'm not the biggest deviled egg fan. I'd rather just eat a plain ol' egg with some salt and pepper. These were okay, but nothing too special. And man, my egg peeling skillz are awful! Every one of those eggs was stubborn, and they were quite ugly after I was done with 'em. Any egg peeling tips? Should I not have let them cool all the way (even though Martha told me to)?

Overall a good summer dinner. Next time we will form smaller tuna patties, as these were gigantic and really really filling. This recipe would make brilliant teeny burgers, for sure.

Tuna burgers

• 1 1/2 pounds yellowfin tuna, cut into 1-inch pieces, chilled
• 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Make the burgers: Fit a food grinder with a grinding plate with about 1/4-inch holes. Grind tuna into a bowl. Or, do as Iron Stef did and pulse the fish in your food processor 5 or six times. Add garlic, ginger, lemon zest, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix gently, and shape into four 1-inch-thick patties. Cover, and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 30 minutes.

Keeping plenty of oil handy to avoid sticking, grill to desired doneness.

Wasabi Deviled eggs

• 8 large eggs
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste
• 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice-wine vinegar
• 2 large scallions, minced (3 tablespoons)
• Coarse salt
• Pea shoots or sprouts, for garnish

Prepare an ice-water bath. Place eggs in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Cover, and
remove from heat. Let stand 13 minutes. Drain, and transfer eggs to ice-water bath until cold.

Peel eggs, and halve lengthwise. Transfer yolks to a medium bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, wasabi, vinegar, and
scallions. Season with salt. Pipe or spoon filling into whites. Garnish with pea shoots or sprouts.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

cookies for your underwear drawer

White chocolate chip cookies with
lavender and candied ginger

recipe adapted from here

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. dried Lavender
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 generous cup white chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. chopped candied ginger

In a large bowl, blend butter, brown sugar & lavender until smooth. Mix in egg, milk & vanilla.

In a separate bowl, blend oatmeal, flour, and baking powder together; add white chocolate chips and ginger to this dry mix.

Add dry mixture to the wet, and stir to combine.

Place dough on greased baking sheet in Tablespoon sized lumps. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Mmmmm...sounds lovely, right? But, lovely as a sweet treat or lovely as a bubble bath? This was my first time cooking with lavender, and as someone who enjoys girly lotions, candles, soaps, etc., it was a little crazy to have the relaxing, herby, distinct smell of lavender coming from my oven. Good news is, these cookies were quite tasty! Not-to-sweet, just crumbly enough, and just...interesting.

Friends and co-workers seemed to enjoy them as well, though most had the same initial reaction to the scent. Thus, these have been coined "Sachet Cookies." I know, this name does not make you want to drop everything and go whip these up. But trust me, they are good! The creamy, sweet white chocolate goes so well with the floral lavender, while the ginger adds that little twang of sumpin' sumpin'.

I might lighten up on the lavender next time, as it was a tad heavy-handed...still, there will be a next time. Go ahead, take that lavender out of your skivvies drawer and put it in your food (not really, silly-head! go get some from the spice aisle!)! Slashfood and The Kitchn have both recently posted lavender inspiration. See? I'm not the only crazy person eating bath products!

Friday, June 13, 2008

fiddle me this...

Everybody's doin' it! So I had to try it, too. Fiddlehead Ferns! A springtime delicacy. Little baby ferns, all curled up in their fern fetal position. I've seen them all over the blogs, including local friends, but never at the store. But I finally got my hands on some this week! Yay!

Since it was my first time ever trying them, I kept it simple...blanching them in salted water then sauteƩing them in butter.

They were good! Very much a spring flavor...green and planty and fresh. And oh so cute! We had them with some salmon that Jack grilled up with some lemon butter. Mmmmm...crispy buttery salmon skin....

WTF?!?! Nooooo!!

I went to check out one of my favorite sites, TastsSpotting, this morning, only to find a note that said "Thanks for great 18 months! In light of recent legal complications, NOTCOT will no longer be operating tastespotting.com. -Jean, NOTCOT, 6-13-08."

I am so bummed right now. TasteSpotting was such a beautiful site, featuring the best food of the internet. I wonder what kind of legal troubles they had? I always submitted my own photos and links, and I was pleased as punch if they made it on. Not only because my hits would quadruple, but because they had high standards for what photos looked good, so If mine made it, I felt proud! I know you could submit photos and links to other people's sites, so maybe something happened there...someone's photo showed up who didn't want it to? But who wouldn't want to be on TasteSpotting?!?!

Ugh. This is upsetting. More discussions of this on metafilter, seriouseats and chowhound.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nigella Express-Beef Skewers and Mushed up beans

A while back I won Nigella Express from Serious Eats. Exciting, I know! It's the second book I've won from them. Maybe I should start playing the lottery? Nah. I don't do well with gambling. I'll stick to food blog giveaways. Anyway, I really like the book. I was worried it would be more in the "Retch-el Ray 30 minute meals" direction, and while there are some questionable shortcuts in some of the recipes, most of the food is just plain simple and delicious-looking. Re-affirms my girl-crush on Nigella.

I tried out a couple of the recipes over the weekend - The Juicy Beef Skewers with Horseradish Dip and the White Bean Mash. Both were good! I will probably be doing this with beans again. I love beans, and this is an easy and different side dish idea. The skewers had good flavor, and were mostly juicy and tender. Some pieces were a little tough, but this may be attributed to my poor butchering skillz, or just the cut of meat itself, Rump roast, which is pretty darn lean.

Juicy Beef Skewers with Horseradish Dip

1 lb. beef rump
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
2 Tbsp. rosemary needles
1 ½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worstershire
2 Tbsp. Port
1 Cup sour cream
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt

Cut beef into one inch cubes, and put into a freezer bag with olive oil, 1 Tablespoon horseradish, rosemary, vinegar, worstershire and port. Set aside for ar least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Let the meat come to room temp, and soak bamboo skewers at the same time.

Make the dip by beating together the sour cream and remaining 2 Tbsp. horseradish with the mustard and salt.

Thread three or four pieces of beef onto each skewer and grill about 2 minutes per side.

White Bean Mash

¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 14 oz. cans cannelinni beans
1 sprig rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil with lemon zest and garlic through.

Drain and rinse beans, add to be pan, warming through, stirring and squishing with a wooden spoon.

Add the rosemary whole to flavor, and discard when ready to serve. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with more olive oil.

For a veggie, I roasted some fresh brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt & pepper. As you can see I REALLY roasted those mo-fos. Mmmm...they are so good that way.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

fig pistachio goat cheese spread

On most Wednesday evenings during the summer, you can find me at the Missouri Botanical Gardens enjoying the scenery and the music at their Whitaker Music Festival. I've been going to these free weekly concerts for a few years. It's such a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the beautiful botanical gardens, hang out with friends and relax. While they have some beverages available for purchase, you are encouraged to bring your own food and drink. This past Wednesday was the first of the season, featuring Erin Bode, a popular jazz singer.

I had a small log of goat cheese in the fridge, and I knew I wanted to make some sort of spread with it. I racked my brain for possible goat cheese partners, until I remembered my fig and goat cheese pizza. FIGS! YES! I soaked some fried figs in port for a couple of hours, then rinsed them and chopped them up. I also wanted some sort of salty element to compliment the sweet figs and tangy goat cheese. I had some pistachio nut meats (does the term nut meats make anyone else giggle? I know, I know...I'm 12) in the freezer, so I toasted them and chopped them up and salted them lightly. Then I simply spread the goat cheese on the bottom of a small Pyrex container, and sprinkled the figs and nut meats (heh heh...) on top! So easy. And it was a hit! It will be a regular part of my party/picnic food repertoire.

NEW BLOG ALERT!! My friend Scott has just started a food blog, butterscott. Go drool over his paella and tell him hello!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

turkey kefta & carrot salad...mo rockin' summer

Holy crud it's June! And I am SOOO not in swimsuit shape. Time to start panicking and start some crazy celery and beef jerky diet? Nah...but some lighter fare won't hurt.

Last night I tried out Cooking Light's Turkey Kefta with sweet onion and raisin sauce. I veered a little of course. In my shopping, I forgot to get onions, so instead of "4 cups" of onions, I had a small red onion and a shallot...The link goes to the original recipe, I'll try my best to represent (yo) how I made the turkey kefta:

1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 14 oz. cans low-fat, less sodium chicken broth
1 cup raisins
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout*

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout*
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 eggs, beaten
2 lbs. ground turkey
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Combine chopped fresh parsley and the next 6 ingredients (through ground turkey breast) in a large bowl; shape mixture into golf-ball sized balls. Place meatballs on top of onion mixture; cover and cook for 20 minutes or until done. Sprinkle evenly with slivered almonds.

Serve over Jasmine rice.

*Cooking Light's Ras el Hanout Recipe:

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container.

This was a tasty for the most part, although the turkey balls will need tweaking. They were a bit dry, and could use more flavor...It's ground turkey, people...it needs more help! I'm wondering if using the gelatin trick from Cook's Illustrated meatloaf recipe (the recipe I use for meatloaf cupcakes) would help keep these moist? Like I said...needs tweaking, but this recipe has potential. The flavor of the raisin and onion sauce and the Ras El Hanout was wonderful over Jasmine rice.

As a side veggie, I turned to Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food, where I became smitten with (among many other recipes & writings) the Moroccan carrot with Ginger salad. It's simple! Carrots, fresh ginger, a few spices...to be exact:

5 medium carrots, shredded (the recipe called for 4 large carrots to be cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks...I have a new toy...a Benriner mandolin, and I didn't have time for the recommended overnight marinating...so I though shredding would be fun and make up for the lack of time)
About 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
Mix all those together and let marinate in the fridge for an hour or more. Before serving, stir in:
Juice from ½ a lime
2 Tbsp. olive oil

This salad will most def. make more appearances this summer. So...dare i say it...simple...and so yummy! I like the shredded texture, too. It was so...scoopable! and marinating it for an hour was certainly sufficient that way, too!

So Moroccan meals = roccin' body? Perhaps not quite...but it doesn't hurt. Now to get hooked on running, push-ups and crunches...then maybe the turkey balls will make a difference.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Apple Drink! It's GREEN.

We were out of town all weekend, and I have no mouth-watering food photos/recipes/adventures to share. However, during the long car rides, we listened to some Dave Chapelle stand-up, and I just have to share this bit from his special "For What It's Worth." Please realize this contains language that may not go over well at your workplace (NSFW!! NSFW!!). So with that warning out of the way...enjoy the hilarity, and happy Monday!!

Previous funny videos on Irons Stef:
-Pan Kun the chimp makes noodles & "I don't like fish."
-Jim Gaffigan on Bacon
-Louis Black on Candy Corn